Page 30 - FCW, November/December 2021
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be able to swap blocks.... It’s not as big of a lift as some people think still today, particularly in software, and I think that’s how you end up building the right fit and being able to try new things and be very agile and get rid of one Lego block replaced by another.”
Forcing change from the inside
To try to improve the system from the inside, DOD has launched a series of pilot programs to test the effectiveness of buying software through a single budget activity rather than from mul- tiple categories. The programs carve out research and development dollars for certain software-heavy programs, including the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, the Army’s Defensive Cyber Operations, the Global Command and Control System-Joint, and the National Background Investi- gation Services.
In addition, DOD has adopted a soft- ware acquisition pathway. The Defense Innovation Board’s Software Acquisi- tion and Practices (SWAP) Study, released in 2019, recommended the approach along with a rewrite of the DOD Instruction 5000 series, the policy document that guides how the depart- ment buys and delivers the solutions it needs. The redesign was meant to allow for continuous software integra- tion and delivery based on the technol- ogy industry’s best practices.
“The pathway objective is to facili- tate rapid and iterative delivery of soft- ware capability to the user,” according to the Defense Acquisition Universi- ty’s website. “This pathway integrates modern software development practice such as agile software development, DevSecOps and lean practices.”
Before DOD launched the software acquisition pathway in 2020, it was hard for DOD to prepare for future techno- logical changes, said Hullings, who pre- viously served as chief of cyber require- ments at Air Force Space Command. He recalled making the argument for fund- ing such preparations by using an iPhone
analogy at a time when iPhone3 was the latest version. He told command leaders: “I need to develop requirements to coun- ter threats coming from the iPhone 7... because we know the iPhone 7 will have threats and vulnerabilities that today we cannot counter. I need to start working on those solutions today, and I can’t do it without money.”
He said he believes the software acquisition pathway could help make those conversations less challenging.
The approach is still relatively new, so DOD doesn’t yet have data to mea- sure how the program is doing. Tory Cuff, senior adviser for agile acquisi- tions to the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, pre- viously told FCW that it would take time to “truly understand the impact of all these efforts that we are doing and updating within acquisition.” Cuff
said about 20 programs had adopted the pathway, and officials expect to see some initial data in early 2022.
Better together?
According to budget documents, DOD’s pilot program to use colorless money for buying software covers eight programs. Officials proposed adding the Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), worth more than $950 mil- lion, but it was missing from the House Appropriations Committee’s markup of the budget bill.
Stephanie Kostro, executive vice president for policy at the Profes- sional Services Council, said the pilot programs mean “you can take the soft- ware development from cradle to grave or at least from cradle to fielding.”
But she raised concerns about the pilot programs becoming a slush fund
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